Cult author Dave Eggers is banning Amazon from selling the first run of his new novel about the dangers of big tech.
“I don’t like bullies,” the “A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius” author told the New York Times.
“Amazon has been kicking sand in the face of independent bookstores for decades now,” he said of the company he refused to name in his new book, instead referring in print to the firm founded by Jeff Bezos as “the jungle.”
The hardback version of his new novel, “The Every” — a tech satire follow up to his 2013 Silicon Valley novel “The Circle” — will instead only be sold in independent bookstores and online on his publishing company, McSweeney’s, when it is released Tuesday.
As a bonus to get readers into stores, it will have at least 32 different covers that are randomly distributed.
“One of the themes of the book is the power of monopolies to dictate our choices, so it seemed a good opportunity to push back a bit against the monopoly, Amazon, that currently rules the book world,” Eggers told the Times.
“So we started looking into how feasible it would be to make the hardcover available only through independent bookstores. Turns out it is very, very hard,” he admitted.
He told the Los Angeles Times in a separate interview that warehouse staff had to “inspect each box going out to make sure it’s not somehow going to Amazon.”
“Every distributor has a relationship with them, such that if they distribute a book at all, it has to be distributed through Amazon,” he also told Vanity Fair.
“They have the opposite of an exclusive, I guess, which is to say nothing will go out without their participation.”
As well as fight back at Amazon’s control on book sales, Eggers said he also wanted to “drive a few people to look around the corner and see that there’s a little store there that might benefit from a purchase or two.”
“Without them, we wouldn’t exist,” he told Vanity Fair, recalling his early days hauling McSweeney’s magazine around on the subway and going to “any community bookstore in Brooklyn or St. Mark’s Bookshop in downtown Manhattan, or Shakespeare & Company, and just say, Hey, you want this? And they would say, sure, and that was it.’
“It was this unbelievably human process,” he recalled.
“It’s a small gesture but more so than anything it’s a way to partner with the bookstores that made McSweeney’s possible,” he said of his block on Amazon.
Still, despite his efforts, “The Every” will eventually make it into Amazon’s online store when it is released as a paperback and ebook next month, without the exclusive covers of the hardback.
Not that Eggers is likely to see it often: He still uses a dated flip phone, only recently got Wi-Fi and writes on a nearly 20-year-old laptop that has “never been connected to the internet,” he told the L.A. Times.
McSweeney’s publisher Amanda Uhle conceded to the New York Times that the initial ban is “not going to break the whole system.”
“We’re not trying to do that. But if we have opened a door for someone to walk outside and into the shop around the corner from them, and discover what’s there, that’s a win,” Uhle said.